Jan. 24, 2024
As AI gets more advanced, so do the fraudsters. According to the Federal Trade Commission, fraud cost consumers more than $7 billion during the first three quarters of 2023.
To avoid being scammed, your best bet is to be aware of what is out there. When people are aware of a particular scam, they are 80% less likely to be scammed and 40% less likely to give away private information, according to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. It could also be worth investing in some extra protection, such as using one of the best identity theft protection services.
Here are three common scams you should be aware of:
1. Online account tax scams
The Internal Revenue Service has come out with guidance on this particular scam. It involves scammers who try to sell or offer help with setting up an online account with irs.gov, and it can subject your personal and tax information to identity theft.
Scammers can even use the information to send in a fraudulent tax return to collect a tax refund based on your information or use other financial information to apply for loans and other types of credit.
Make sure that any online tax account that you open begins at irs.gov. The real IRS is not going to call you in this situation, so if anyone contacts you stating that they are from the IRS and can help you set up your online account, it's a scam.
2. Employment scams
Job-related scams will only continue in 2024. The most common one involves the supposed employer sending you a fake money order or fake company check to deposit into your bank account. You take a certain amount of the money to wire back to the "employer" and you keep the rest.
I know this one well, as my sister received a fake check in the mail and was getting ready to deposit it into her checking account. Had she done that, the check would have bounced, putting her account in a negative status and even subjecting it to closure due to fraud.
In a newer, more advanced model of this scam, scammers set up actual virtual interviews and after the interview is over, send you an email asking you to fill out an employment profile to collect personal information that they can now use for fraudulent purposes.
If you are job hunting, do your research on the company. A legitimate company will have a LinkedIn profile and employees who work there, also with LinkedIn profiles. Also, if a company says they are going to send you a check and you haven't even begun work, beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Romance scams
Just in time for Valentine's Day, romance scams are a way to use a new relationship to steal a person's money.
The scammer will pop up in your direct messages or after viewing your dating profile if you have one. Understand that a scammer often works to gain your trust. You may talk to this person on the phone or through an app, day and night, for hours on end. Once they have gained your trust, this will be when they start asking for money.
You may not have even met yet. But they may say someone in their family is sick, their car broke down, or they are about to lose their house. They will ask for cash or payments by Venmo or Zelle, which is harder to trace and nearly impossible to recover in the case of fraud. Romance scams have only risen since COVID-19 and cost Americans $1.3 billion so far.
Think twice before giving money to anyone who asks for payments and cash through these peer-to-peer services, especially if this is someone you just met.
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